OZ Minerals to ramp up Carrapateena this year

The Tjati decline provides access to the copper-gold deposit at Carrapateena. Image: OZ Minerals

OZ Minerals is set to enter a ramp up phase at the Carrapateena copper-gold mine in South Australia after delivering first saleable concentrate late last year.

The company is targeting a shorter 12-month ramp up to 4.25 million tonnes a year run rates by the end of this year.

OZ Minerals plans to further invest in the growth of Carrapateena to enable a faster ramp up and achieve annual throughput rates to 4.7–5 million tonnes a year from 2023.

Capital expenditure at the Carrapateena mine has also increased from the feasibility study update to include around $80 million for mine development, $20 million for infrastructure, and $45 million for acceleration capital.

OZ Minerals has also commenced production on Carrapateena’s first production level, with Tjati decline development approaching the seventh level.

“2019 was a year of major progress for OZ Minerals,” company chief executive Andrew Cole said.

“Carrapateena now enters a faster, circa 12-month, ramp up towards a 4.25 million tonnes a year throughput rate by the end of 2020, dependent upon the cave performing as expected.

“We will test and optimise the plant in the first half of 2020, leading to gradual throughput and recovery increases which will drive progressively higher output in the second half before turning cash positive in 2021.”

OZ Minerals also plans to focus on maintaining reliable production and cost performance at the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in South Australia.

The company produced 26,845 tonnes of copper at the mine in the December quarter, up from 23,100 in the previous quarter, meeting the copper guidance for the fifth consecutive year.

Meanwhile, gold output at Prominent Hill was also at the upper end of guidance for 2019. It climbed to 35,102 ounces in the December quarter on 28,844 ounces in the previous period.

Progressive replacement of trucking fleet at Prominent Hill is under way and will be completed by mid-year.

Elsewhere, OZ Minerals’ Carajás hub strategy in Brazil took shape with construction commencing on the first satellite element, the Pedra Branca underground mine, which will produce ore to be processed at the central Antas plant, according to Cole.

“Over the past five years the team has created a multi-asset company with significant growth potential in existing provinces and beyond,” he said.

“We remain confident in the long-term demand for copper from traditional sources as well as from the rapidly expanding focus on carbon reduction.”

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